Filed Under Education, Women

Andrew Female College

Huntsville’s Andrew Female College was founded in 1852 and chartered by the Texas Conference of Methodist Churches on February 7, 1853. Its creation mirrored that of Austin College, a men’s institution in Huntsville that had admitted its first class in the fall of 1850. The women’s college was named after the controversial Methodist bishop, James Osgood Andrew, whose ownership of African American slaves had caused a split in the Methodist Episcopal Church and helped to birth a new Southern branch of that denomination. Despite Andrew’s divisive reputation with abolitionists in the North, he was popular in Texas, and the residents of Huntsville were proud to name a school after him.

Andrew Female College held its first five-month session in May 1853 at Huntsville’s old “Brick Academy” under the leadership of its first president, James M. Follansbee. At a time when there were few educational opportunities for women, enrollment was high and the college soon outgrew the cramped quarters at its initial site. Local residents supported the school, however, and contributed funds for a larger, two-story building that was completed in 1855. Eighty students, primarily from Walker County and surrounding areas, were enrolled at the college in 1856-1857.

The college offered young women what was considered an appropriate education for the mid-nineteenth century. Courses focused on classical literature, languages, art, music, and domestic life. The school also hosted annual concerts and exhibitions, sponsored by the Music and Art departments. These events garnered widespread attention in Walker County, and brought guests from miles around to see the work that the young women of Texas were producing.

Led by a bevy of prominent Huntsvillians -- including Charles Keenan, Daniel Baker, Henderson Yoakum, and Thomas Ball -- the board of trustees at Andrew Female College ensured that the school operated without interruption throughout the Civil War. Despite this success, Huntsville’s disastrous 1867 yellow fever epidemic claimed the lives of the college president, several members of the faculty, and a number of the students. Although the school limped on for another twelve years after the epidemic, it never fully recovered. The opening of Sam Houston Normal Institute in Huntsville in 1879 finally caused Andrew Female College to close in 1880. The school’s property was conveyed to the city of Huntsville and reopened later that year as the community's first public school. The structure eventually was relocated and became a public school for African American children.


Andrew Female College Building
Andrew Female College Building Andrew Female College was originally located on the site of the current Mance Park Middle School in Huntsville, Texas. After the college closed in 1880, the building was used as a public school before being moved by the city to Rogersville on 10th Street and Avenue P, for use as a school for Huntsville's African American children. This photograph shows the building in its second location. Source: Samuel Walker Houston Museum and Cultural Center
Andrew Female College May Party Invitation
Andrew Female College May Party Invitation This invitation, dated 1856, announces the intention of the students at Andrew Female College to have a May Party to be held on the May Day holiday. The party was to be hosted by a committee of eighteen women at Andrew Female College. Source: Walker County Historical Commission
Advertisement, Huntsville Item
Advertisement, Huntsville Item This advertisement for Andrew Female College appeared in the July 24, 1858 Huntsville Item. Source: Huntsville Item Historic Clipping
Report on Andrew Female College
Report on Andrew Female College This report from Huntsville's Andrew Female College appeared in the Galveston Daily News on July 5, 1867. Source: Galveston Daily News Historic Clipping
Andrew Female College 1876 Music Concert
Andrew Female College 1876 Music Concert Andrew Female College held annual concerts in which the women of the Music Department displayed their skills. As stated in this advertisement, these young women were not professional musicians, but the audience was still expected to behave as if they were attending a professional performance. Source: Sam Houston Memorial Museum
Fall Contract- Andrew Female College 1878
Fall Contract- Andrew Female College 1878 This document is a unique window into Andrew Female College, showing the price of tuition for specific classes, listing professors, and detailing the classes that were offered. Of the five teachers, it is interesting to note that of the three teachers who taught academic subjects only one, whose name is obscured, was a woman. Source: Walker County Historical Commission
Commencement Program 1880
Commencement Program 1880 This commencement program for 1880 is for the last graduating class of Andrew Female College. All of the young women participate in the ceremony through readings, vocal and instrumental performances. Source: Walker County Historical Commission
Texas Historical Marker- "Andrew Female College"
Texas Historical Marker- "Andrew Female College" In 1999, the Texas Historical Commission erected marker number 12831 at the site of Andrew Female College. This marker is located at 828 Eight Street in Huntsville, Texas. Source: Texas Historical Commission



Allison Baughman, “Andrew Female College,” East Texas History, accessed July 17, 2024,